Meet Our Team: Deven Okry

January 12, 2024

Deven Okry joined the Foodwise team in August 2016 as an Operations Assistant and was later promoted to Operations Coordinator. She provides vital administrative assistance for Foodwise farmers markets, and helps to manage operations and customer services for both the Ferry Plaza and Mission Community Markets. Deven also supports special events and initiatives, and since 2022 has taken on the coordination and curation for our Pop-Up on the Plaza events, which celebrate Bay Area Black-owned businesses and feature entrepreneurs from our Building Equity Program.

Tell us a bit about you, your background, and your role at Foodwise.

In August, I will have been with Foodwise for eight years. I grew up in San Francisco and went to School of the Arts (SOTA), then and then City College and San Francisco State, where I studied theater. I really want to be an actress/director/writer⁠.

What was interesting to me when I first started working at the farmers market was learning about seasonal foods. I’d been to a farmers market just few times before I started working here, but I hadn’t really thought about the seasonality of fruits and vegetables, about biodiversity, and how different types of produce come in different varieties. Getting to know more about the food I’m consuming, and getting to know some of the farmers and their methods, was really eye opening.

As an Assistant Market Manager, I do a little of everything, whether it’s helping with setup and breakdown of the market, overseeing and directing people where to go, or helping customers at the Info Booth. As an operations team, we all work together to make sure the work gets done and things are running smoothly. We set the foundation for the market for everyone.

What’s something that you wish people understood better about the farmers market?

I think a lot of people don’t necessarily understand all the work that goes into making the farmers market happen. They think it just happens with a snap of finger, but you have to make sure things are set up a certain way. On Saturdays, I get here at 6:00, before most the farmers show up, to set up the Info Booth and Veggie Valet, put up signage around the market, and set up the loading area. Even the smaller Tuesday and Thursday markets require a lot of work.

What inspires or motivates you about your work?

This is my first job, and what I enjoy most is like having a good team to work with. I know that if I need help with something, they’ll help me out. They’re my work family, and I love them⁠. I also enjoy encouraging other people to support local businesses and farmers. To me, the food just tastes better if it comes from within a certain range, instead of sitting on the shelf for who knows how long. I also enjoy educating people about seasonality and the different varieties at the farmers market.

What do you do to recharge outside of work?

I go back and forth between both my parents’ houses⁠—just being able to spend time with my family helps. I’ve been cleaning a lot and reorganizing things, just to like clear my head. I’ve also been writing and working on a screenplay, while I’m starting to work toward my BA in Theater. I have a lot in my head, so it helps to get some of it out and on paper. Rather than keep it inside, I can try to share it with people.

Do you have any favorite farmers market tips you can share?

I really like the produce from Green Thumb Organics. I don’t know what it is about their produce, but it tastes so good. Their bok choy, broccoli, and kale are amazing. Yerena Farms for strawberries of course, and stone fruit from K&J Orchards. For hot foods, I’ve been trying a more vegetable-based diet, so I’ve been mushroom burritos from Mi Comedor.

Three Foodwise staff members at the Farmers Market Info Booth, including Deven Okry and Tommy Phung